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Bright stars . . . Waitaki Girls' High School pupils (from left) Cerys Thomas, Phoebe Wang and Johanna Schoneveld (all 13) recently won the Nasa Scientist for a Day essay competition. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Never mind the sky, some stars are right here on earth.

In fact, three go to Waitaki Girls’ High School.

Year 9 pupils Cerys Thomas, Phoebe Wang and Johanna Schoneveld recently won the Nasa Scientist for a Day essay competition.

Entering together, the 13-year-olds wrote the best three essays of any year 9 or 10 class in New Zealand.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Cerys said.

“It’s from the New Zealand Space Agency, and further back, Nasa. It’s just really shocking that we won.”

For winning the competition, they received a mini AR/VR enhanced Uranus model for their school.

They were asked to write about which of Uranus’ 27 moons they would send a spacecraft to and what they might find there, based on what was already known.

Cerys wrote about Ariel, and what might be on a face that scientists did not know much about.

Phoebe wrote from the perspective of Ariel, and Johanna from the perspective of a probe visiting Titania.

The competition required a lot of creativity, a quality some people did not always associate with science.

“It was really fun,” Cerys said.

“[It was] definitely a good chance to let our imaginations stretch.”

The imaginative aspect was often what the girls enjoyed the most about science, technology, engineering, and maths (Stem).

“There are lots of opportunity to be creative .. such as creating science fair projects,” Cerys said.

“There’s a lot of visual work, as well as research and experimentation work.”

Phoebe thought a reason why people might find Stem “boring or not so fun” was because they did not get much of a chance to interact with it.

She recently spoke about Stem as a panellist at 100 Women, 100 Words . . . Infinite Possibilities at the Forrester Gallery and was surprised by how many young children were there.

Subsequently, she and her classmates were told by a teachers that a lot of rural primary school children did not have the exposure or opportunity to get involved with the Stem programme.

Wanting to change this, the girls were thinking of starting an online Stem programme, but it was just in the idea stage.